Tag Archives: criminal justice reform

Mental health and Michelle Alexander

Join EMIT on Thursday, Dec. 3 at the Maynard Town Hall, 195 Main Street, to discuss how mental health is treated in prisons, and the relationship to drug addiction. Joining in the conversation are police chiefs from Arlington, Hudson, and Maynard as well as Sarah Abbott, director of the jail diversion program for Advocates, Inc. Three legislators will weigh in on the discussion: State Senator Jamie Eldridge, and State Representatives Sean Garballey and Kate Hogan.

The event is 7-830 pm with light refreshments, and is free and open to the public. The cosponsors are the Maynard and Hudson Democratic Town Committees.

Join EMIT on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 6-7:30 pm at the Hazlett Room of the Winthrop Public Library,  2 Metcalf Square for a showing of the 23-minute TEDx talk by Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” A discussion will follow, with free refreshments offered.

Sponsored by EMIT and hosted by the Winthrop Public Library. For information on either event, contact emit.susan@gmail.com, 978-772-3930.

Action you can take to influence the Judiciary Committee

The Judiciary Committee is now evaluating bills to reform the Commonwealth’s judicial and correctional systems. YOU CAN INFLUENCE this process in several ways.

1. Pledge to attend the June 9 hearing, 1 pm at the Gardner Auditorium of the Statehouse to show support for reform. Sign up here or show up at 12:45 pm at the Statehouse.

2. Print out multiple copies of this action letter. Invite others to sign individual letters. Mail them to EMIT, C/o Susan Tordella, 5 Hedgeway St. Ayer, MA 01432. EMIT will deliver them in person to the Judiciary Committee members. Or deliver the letters in person to Judiciary Committee members.

3.Call or email members of the Judiciary Committee and encourage other voters to do the same,  to encourage legislators to support criminal justice reform, especially the bills in the action letter

Here are the Judiciary Committee members, positions and contact information.

The legislators with NONE beside their names really need to hear that we support reform. 

Key (bills Sponsored -SP or Co-sponsored):
MM:    End Mandatory Minimums
PT:      Pre-Trial and Bail Reform
Just:   Justice Reinvestment Act
Care:   Caretaker Act
Exp:    Expungement
RJ:      Restorative Justice
Extra:  Extraordinary Medical Release

William Brownsberger, D-Belmont – Chair    617-722-1280  William.brownsberger@masenate.gov
MM, Just, Exp, RJ,
Sen. John Keenen, D-Quincy – Vice Chair NONE   617-722-1494     john.keenan@masenate.gov
Sonia Chang Diaz, D-Boston           617-722-1673     sonia.change-diaz@masenate.gov
PT, MM, Just -SP
Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville         617-722-1578     patricia.jehlen@masenate.gov
PT, MM, Care-SP, Exp, RJ, Extra -SP
Cynthia Creem, D-Newton               617-722-1639     cynthia.creem@masenate.gov
MM- SP, Just
Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham             NONE   617-722-1555     richard.ross@masenate.gov
Rep. John Fernandes, D-Milford- Chair   NONE     617-722-2396     john.fernandes@mahouse.gov
Claire Cronin, D-Easton – Vice Chair                       617-722-2396     claire.cronin@mahouse.gov
PT, MM, Just, RJ Extra
Rep. Colleen Garry, D-Dracut    NONE       617-722-2380     colleen.garry@mahouse.gov
Rep. John Velis, D-Westfield     NONE       617-722-2582     john.vellis@mahouse.gov
Michael Day, D-Winchester                        617-722-2582     michael.day@mahouse.gov
MM, RJ
Rep. Paul Tucker, D-Salem          NONE          617-722-2400     paul.tucker@mahouse.gov
Rep. James Lyons, R-Andover    NONE          617-722-2450     james.lyons@mahouse.gov
Jeffrey Roy, D-Franklin                     617-722-2020     jeffrey.roy@mahouse.gov
Pre-Trial, MM, RJ
Evandro Carvalho, D-Dorchester      617-722-2460     evandro.carvalho@mahouse.gov
MM, Just
Carlos Gonzalez, D-Springfield         617-722-2080     carlos.gonzalez@mahouse.gov
PT, MM, Just, Care
Sheila Harrington, R-Groton              617-722-2305     shiela.harrington@mahouse.gov
PT

What´s happening at the State House this term

Here´s a post from Commonwealth about Statehouse power positioning.

April 2, 2015

Rules debate puts Beacon Hill on hold

The MBTA isn’t the only state entity that’s been operating with significant delays. The movement of legislation on Beacon Hill has been ground to a halt by a debate on internal rules that is fraying nerves no less than February’s frozen subway switches and iced-over third rails.

At issue is the process by which bills move from committees to the two legislative chambers, a structure that senators say has increasingly weakened their branch in a system that is supposed to be one of legislative co-equals. The two chambers have been trying to negotiate a resolution of their differences for several weeks, and tempers are starting to get short.

Almost all legislation on Beacon Hill, whether filed by a senator or a representative, is initially directed to joint committees made up of members of both branches. The joint committees hold hearings where the pros and cons of a bill are first aired. It takes a majority vote of the committee to then advance a bill to one of the two chambers. But since the 160-member House has nearly twice as many members on the 25 joint committees as the 40-member Senate (the usual makeup is 11 representatives and six senators), House members effectively control the movement of bills out of committees.

Senators have said delay tactics are increasingly being used to bottle up bills House leaders aren’t eager to see advance. The solution unanimously endorsed by the Senate in February was to change the rules governing joint committees so that House and Senate members could, with a majority vote of just the members of their branch, send any bill back to the branch where it originated. Though the rule would apply to both House and Senate members, it is senators, who are at a numerical disadvantage when the committees vote as a whole, who are eager to see the change.

House leaders have shown no interest in such a change. Speaker Robert DeLeo called the proposal a “non-starter” last month.

Senate President Stan Rosenberg has taken to social media to explain the Senate’s view on the rules debate. He posted on his website a “Message on the Joint Rules,”coauthored with Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and Sen. Mark Montigny, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. They said the joint committee structure is an efficient way of holding hearings on bills. “This arrangement, however, is not living up to its full potential,” they wrote. Bills move slowly out the joint committees, and “many don’t come out of committee at all,” they wrote.

The problem began worsening, Rosenberg told the State House News in early March, when the Legislature moved 20 years ago to a system that allows bills to carryover from the first year of each two-year legislative session to the second without being refiled or having a new hearing. Before the change, bills were filed each January and had to have a hearing by April of that year. Under the new system, bills are filed in January of the first year of the two-year session, with rules mandating only that a hearing be held by March of the following year. The Legislature also modified its schedule to end its formal sessions on July 31 of that second year, which means bills might have only a four-month window during the two-year session in which they must be directed out of the committee where they were first heard.

Rosenberg and many senators also sent out last week via Twitter a graphic that shows how bills move — and often don’t move — through the Massachusetts Legislature. “This hurts efficiency and makes your government less effective,” the reads the text accompanying the graphic.

House leaders have not taken well the airing out so publicly of an issue that is one of the ultimate inside-baseball matters on Beacon Hill.

DeLeo’s office declined to comment. But House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, the lead House negotiator in the six-person conference committee of representatives and senators trying to resolve the rules standoff, sounded off earlier this week.

“I was extremely disappointed that the Senate president had gone on Twitter,” Mariano told reporters outside a State House hearing room on Tuesday after testifying on several revenue bills. He suggested that taking internal debates like this public could damage the working relationship between the two branches.

Behind the battle is an unfolding dynamic that has set the two branches on something of a collision course. The House has been tilting more toward the political center in recent years, while the Senate has been adding members eager to advance a full-throated liberal agenda on everything from taxation to criminal justice reform. But a good deal of the standoff goes beyond any ideological differences, as evidenced by the endorsement of the proposed rule change by the Senate’s six Republicans.

State House observers say the House has become increasingly wary of taking on controversial issues that could force representatives to take tough votes. House members, with districts only one-quarter the size of their Senate counterparts, are seen as more vulnerable to challengers who don’t face as daunting a fundraising or organizational task as would-be challengers for Senate seats.

The two chambers are also being guided by legislative leaders at very different stages of their reign. While DeLeo has been firmly ensconced for six years — and recently got his members to abolish the eight-year term limit on his office that had been in place — Rosenberg just took the gavel as Senate president in January and is eager to make his mark. What’s more, across their long legislative careers, Rosenberg has been a more policy-focused pol than DeLeo, so he already comes to power with an interest in a more activist approach to the legislative process, an inclination shared by an increasing share of his issue-oriented Senate members.

The Senate proposal would do nothing to change the fact that any bill must win a favorable vote in both branches before going to the governor’s office. But allowing the Senate to control and pass its own bills means measures that now often seem lost in the legislative ether — sent to a “study,” often termed the “legislative graveyard,” or tied up through other tactics — would now be awaiting House action. Groups advocating particular bills could then direct their lobbying efforts — and public campaigns — at the branch where action on a piece of legislation is needed.

Rosenberg declined to comment on the ongoing rules debate, with his office citing the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations. Neither Tarr, the Republican minority leader, nor Montigny, who is the lead Senate negotiator in the conference committee, would comment.

If an agreement can’t be reached, the Senate could resort to the so-called “nuclear” option of ending the joint committee structure and establishing a separate Senate committee for each issue area.

That would, in fact, put Massachusetts in the mainstream. Forty-six states operate with separate committees in each branch, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Just Maine and Connecticut share the joint committee structure that Massachusetts uses. And only Maine requires a vote of the entire committee to move a bill forward. Connecticut uses the system Massachusetts senators are proposing, with joint committees but with each branch able to control the flow of its own bills.

It’s not likely to be suggested by either branch, but one way to resolve the standoff would be to do away with our two legislative branches altogether and join Nebraska, the one state with a unicameral legislature.

–MICHAEL Jonas

Next steps toward reforming the Mass. justice system

THANKS TO YOU, regular voters who care, EMIT and UU Mass Action Network, delivered 700-plus

Massachusetts statehouse and state legislators have passed dozens of bills to fill our prisons and  jails. These bills often discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, income, social class, education, mental health and drug and substance addiction and abuse

The Statehouse is where we need to encourage lawmakers to pass a series of bills over a number of years to untangle the injustice of mass incarceration in Massachusetts.

letters to state lawmakers in January 2015 asking them to cosponsor criminal justice reform, especially to end mandatory minimum sentencing for low-level drug offenses and to reform pre-trial practices — what happens when someone gets arrested, and on what basis do we decide to incarcerate them, without being found guilty.

Reaching out to state lawmakers, especially representatives in face-to-face meetings, is one of the most effective ways to make our voice heard in future laws. This is the goal of EMIT.

We especially need voters to visit with state representatives in Springfield, New Bedford and Fall River, Plymouth-Cape Cod-The Islands, and Cape Ann/The North Shore. Can you join us? Please email emit.susan at g mail dot com. Our strategy is simple and issues can easily be understood and communicated to state legislators.

Thanks to the leadership of the State Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, the 40 members of the State Senate may be on board with criminal justice reform this legislative session. In 2015, we must focus on the 160 state representatives, and meet with them personally, in their home districts, with constituents like you and a few friends. You can meet at the public library or town hall for 30 minutes and share your urgency to end mass incarceration now.

EMIT is also co-sponsoring events to inform to reform so people feel more knowledgeable when meeting with state representatives.

Save March 28 in Amherst, 10 am to 2 pm at the UCC Church, 165 Main St. Featured speakers are Sen. Stan Rosenberg, who will give more details on justice reinvestment and State Sen. Jamie Eldridge who will describe some pending criminal justice reform bills. Formerly incarcerated people will share their stories, and participants will have time to network. Sponsored by EMIT and Social Justice Committee of Amherst UCC.

Save March 12 in New Bedford and April 16 in Springfield for additional events. More info to come.

In Arlington, on Saturday, March 14, 1-4:30 pm, attend a Road Map towards Justice: How to End Mass Incarceration in Massachusetts, at First Parish Unitarian Universalist 630 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington.

Come learn about the bills related to mass incarceration and prison reform that might become law in the next two years, and how you can help make our criminal justice system more fair and effective.  You will hear from experts, receive fact sheets, and have time to connect with others and digest what you are learning.  Speakers include Rep. Dave Rogers, Rep. Sean Garballey, Barbara Dougan, Andrea James, Jon Tetherly, and EPOCA members.  Refreshments served too!

RSVPs to end-mass-incarceration@firstparish.info are appreciated but not required.

This interactive workshop is organized by the Mass Incarceration Working Group of First Parish Arlington and co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition, End Mass Incarceration Together, EPOCA (Ex-Prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement), Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and the Mystic Valley Branch of the NAACP,

Ferguson and Staten Island are the tip of the iceberg

Recent events in which black men have died at the hands of police are examples of how the US justice system is slanted against people who are black, Latino, poor, addicted to substances and mentally ill.

In Massachusetts, EMIT — End Mass Incarceration Together [a statewide grassroots advocacy group led by Unitarians and UU Mass Action Network] — partners with voters and state legislators to pass a series of bills in the next few years to ensure justice for all. We advocate legislative action, information, and coalition building to change Massachusetts state laws, policies, systems of justice and incarceration, probation and parole.

Such change is achieved one bill at a time, working in a statewide grassroots network of voters, legislators, communities, churches, non-profits and advocacy groups. We are working on generating support for two bills in the 2015 session: ending mandatory minimum sentencing and reform of pre-trial practices.

We need local leaders willing to take some small steps by Jan. 31.

1. Print out the letter below and invite people to sign individual letters to their state senator and representative. [Determine reps/senators here.]

2. Collect the letters and deliver them to your state representative and state senator BY JAN. 30.  Make an appointment with him/her in your district. You do not need to go to Beacon Hill. A personal visit to deliver the signed stack of letters has a BIG impact on your legislator. Ask other voters to attend the meeting.

3. Let EMIT know [emit.susan@gmail.com] that you have taken this action. If you cannot deliver the letters, send them to 5 Hedgeway St., Ayer, MA 01432.

Here are fact sheets on the two bills.

Pretrial Reform FactSheet(2)       Mandatory Minimums FactSheet2

Date ___________________________

Massachusetts State House   Room

24 Beacon Street   Boston, MA 02133

The Honorable_______________________________,

I am writing to ask you to co-sponsor two bills that are priority legislation for the Harm Reduction & Drug Law Reform Caucus. As you know, the Caucus is a coalition of more than 65 legislators, working to end mass incarceration through policy changes, education and coalition building.

The Caucus is committed to reforming the Commonwealth’s justice system, which unjustly impacts and incarcerates people who are black, Latino, poor, uneducated, addicted to substances, and mentally ill. The Caucus is co-chaired by Representative Tom Sannicandro (D-Ashland) and Senator Jamie Eldridge, (D-Acton). If you are already a caucus member, thank you.

Your help is needed to join the work of the Caucus and continue the momentum to end the injustice of mass incarceration in Massachusetts. We urge you to co-sponsor the two bills by Jan. 15, so your names will be printed on the cover of the bills, along with many fellow legislators.

  1. Removal of Mandatory Minimum sentencing – sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Cream, D-Newton, and Rep. Ben Swan, D-Springfield, to allow drug offenders to be sentenced based on their role in the offense, prior criminal history (if any) and need for treatment.
  2. Reform pre-trial and bail practices – sponsored by Sen. Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington) and Rep. Sannicandro, to transform a justice system based on wealth to a risk-based system.  One-fourth of the 22,000 people incarcerated in the state are awaiting trial, without a guilty finding.

Fact sheets on these issues are available at www.endmassincarcerationtogether.wordpress.com or by contacting Rebecca Miller, legislative aide to Rep. Sannicandro,  617-722-2013 and    Rebecca.Miller@mahouse.gov.

Thank you in advance for supporting justice reform in 2015 in Massachusetts.

Sincerely,

Signature_____________________________________

Printed name_________________________________

Address______________________________________

Town_________________________________________

A preview of 2015 Massachusetts legislation to end mass incarceration

Advocates and lawmakers are working together to draft legislation for the 2015-2016 legislative session on Beacon Hill. EMIT is encouraging voters who want to restore justice for all in the Commonwealth, to contact their state senators and state reps NOW in December, in advance of the January blitz of activity to introduce all of the bills for the 18 month session.

The more co-sponsors behind a proposed bill, the more support it will generate from other legislators. Lawmakers must commit to co-sponsor a bill by Jan. 15, 2015. The bills will be introduced during the first two weeks of January, given a number and assigned to a committee.

Here is a partial list of criminal reform measures we anticipate will be considered by the Massachusetts Legislature.

  • End mandatory minimum sentences related to drug offenses.  Some 70 percent of incarcerated people in Massachusetts prisons and jails are serving sentences set by mandatory minimum sentences, which eliminated judicial discretion. Mandatory minimum sentences have not been shown to increase public safety. There is no evidence to show mandatory minimums deter or reduce crime, or rates of addiction and substance abuse. Mandatory minimums are costly because they keep people incarcerated for longer periods of time than necessary, and disproportionately impact communities of color.
  • Pretrial and bail reform — about 20 percent of the state’s 22,000  people in county jails and state prisons have not been convicted of a crime. Many are awaiting trial because they cannot afford to make a small amount of bail. New legislation would revise how accused individuals are evaluated, and determine if they can safely return to the community and be expected to appear at trial.
  • Ending collateral sanctions by the Registry of Motor Vehicles so that people convicted of drug offenses will be eligible to immediately obtain a driver’s license [instead of waiting for up to 5 years] and eliminate the $500 reinstatement fee.
  • Implement Restorative justice — an approach to community harm, to repair the harm caused by the event instead of punishing the person who committed the crime.
  • Compassionate release to allow terminally ill inmates to be released to the community.
  • Solitary confinement to revise how the Department of Corrections assigns solitary confinement to incarcerated individuals and especially juveniles.

Join us Nov. 15 in Northboro with Sen. Jamie Eldridge

Ending Mass Incarceration, part of "The New Jim Crow" in Massachusetts, is part of criminal justice reform, led by State Sen. Stan Rosenburg, D Amherst. We must work together in Mass. to reform our criminal justice system and end the systematic incarceration of black, brown, poor, mentally ill and addicted people.

State Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, is a progressive senator who constantly advocates for the underprivileged, to protect the environment and for civil liberty.

Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, and Rebecca Miller, aide to Rep. Tom Sannicandro, D-Ashland, will preview upcoming legislation for the 2015 legislative session and give inside information on how to connect with and influence our state legislators.

The meeting gets rolling at 10:45 am with registration and coffee. The program starts promptly at 11 am and ends at 1 pm. Light refreshments served. Free. Handicapped accessible. Plenty of parking. If you need a lift from public transit – Green Line to MetroWest Transit, please contact susan . tordella at g mail . com.

Register here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/end-mass-incarceration-training-tickets-13678989225

Bring friends who are outraged by the injustice of mass incarceration. Please share this notice with your networks.

We are building an ecumenical

statewide grassroots network to influence state legislators to pass a series of bills to return justice for all to Massachusetts, from revising pre-trial services to ending mandatory minimum sentencing.

Join a chorus of statewide advocacy groups working on this issue. We are stronger with many voices singing together loudly in many harmonies.

Still time to influence our next judge

Jean Trounstein, an advocate for prison reform, says about the nomination of Joshua Wall to go from head of the Board of Parole to superior court judge, “With this much controversy from the public over a nominee for superior court judge, how can the council possibly vote him a judgeship? This is not a contest, i.e. who can scream the loudest for or against, this is about allowing or not allowing someone to have enormous power over the lives of thousands of people.”
Judgeship are a powerful way to influence our criminal justice system. Neutrality is obviously essential. There is still time to contact your governor’s councilor, the advisory board to Gov. Patrick, which approves his nominations.
From Jean Trounstein, who sat through much of the hearings on Wall’s nomination: These are some of the comments that were made during the testimony about his temperament:
“I thought he was supposed to be neutral.” The Woodmans, whose son was killed when Josh Wall was an Assistant District Attorney for Suffolk County
“We were treated with disregard.” The Woodmans
“He is not fundamentally fair….He has a win at all cost attitude.” Willy Davis, attorney
“He has little compassion for people who are mentally ill.” Leslie Walker,PLS
“He is somebody who loses focus and wants to do anything he can do to achieve his objectives.” Dave Nathanson, attorney
“There is a pattern of punitiveness towards parolees.” Donald Perry, parolee
“’What a proud day for the family. Very fine people,’ Josh Wall said [at a parole hearing to a student attorney] about a man who had murdered someone.” Joel Thompson, attorney
“I have never opposed a judgeship in thirty years…” Patty Garin, attorney
TELL YOUR COUNCILOR THAT, BASED ON HIS PAST CONDUCT, JOSH WALL WILL NOT BE A FAIR JUDGE:

–  A constant theme of the complaints about this Parole Board is that Wall does not show respect to prisoners or their families during parole hearings. He often behaves unnecessarily arrogant, confrontational, condescending, dismissive, and insulting towards prisoners and their families. He often is disrespectful to the law students and attorneys who represent the prisoners at parole hearings.

–  Under Chairman Wall, there has been a significant increase in the number of prisoners who “waive” their parole hearings, i.e. decline the opportunity to appear before the Board. This is largely because many prisoners have decided not to attend a hearing when there is little prospect of being granted parole and a high likelihood that they or their loved ones will be treated with disrespect.

–  Evidence of Wall’s disrespect for prisoners and their families is also shown in his failure to issue timely decisions. Under the Wall Board, lifers and their families have waited an average of 9 months for the Board to issue a decision in their cases. Prior Parole Boards issued their lifer decisions within 60 days.

These are not characteristics the public wishes to see in a judge who must act with impartiality, patience and professionalism. Josh Wall should not be rewarded for his poor conduct as the Chairman of the Parole Board.

As a judge, Wall would have even more power and more opportunity to disrespect the attorneys or defendants who come before him. Furthermore, he would be charged with ruling on motions that could limit defendants’ ability to present a defense and his conduct in the courtroom could negatively impact how juries view defendants during trial. Most concerning, he would be pronouncing sentences for criminal defendants – the very people for whom he has already shown no respect as the Parole Board Chair.

YOUR EFFORTS COULD REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Signed,
Members of the Steering Committee of the Coalition for Effective Public Safety
___________________________________________________________________________
To find out the name of your councilor go to:
http://www.wheredoivotema.com/bal/MyElectionInfo.aspx

1.  Oliver P. Cipollini, Jr. – District 1
20 Biscayne Drive
Marstons Mills, MA 02648
GC: 617-725-4015, ext. 1
Res: 508-428-8782
Fax: 617-727-6610
Email: ocipollini@aol.com

2.   Robert L. Jubinville – District 2
487 Adams Street
Milton, MA 02186
GC: 617-725-4015, ext. 2
Bus: 800-828-9010
Fax: 617-698-8004
Email: Jubinville@comcast.net

3.   Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney – District 3
98 Westminster Avenue
Watertown, MA 02472
GC: 617-725-4015 ext. 3
Cell: 617-840-7689
Fax: 617-727-6610
Email: marilynpetittodevaney@gmail.com

4.    Christopher A. Iannella – District 4
263 Pond Street
Boston, MA 02130
GC: 617-725-4015 ext. 4
Bus: 617-227-1538
Fax: 617-742-1424
Email: caiannella@aol.com

5.    Eileen R. Duff – District 5
8 Barberry Heights Road
Gloucester, MA 01930
GC: 617-725-4015 ext. 5
Res: 978-927-8700
Fax: 617-727-6610
Email: eileenduff3@gmail.com

6.   Terrence W. Kennedy – District 6
3 Stafford Road
Lynnfield, MA 01940
GC: 617-725-4015, ext. 6
Bus: 617-387-9809
Fax: 617-727-6610
Email: twklaw@aol.com

7.    Jennie L. Caissie – District 7
53 Fort Hill Road
Oxford, MA 01540
GC: 617-725-4015, ext. 7
Bus: 508-765-0885
Fax: 508-765-0888
Email: jcaissie@caplettelaw.com.com

8.    Michael J. Albano – District 8
403 Maple Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
GC: 617-725-4015 ext. 8
Bus: 413-525-4438
Fax: 413-525-4887
Email: albanom@the-spa.com

Justice in Mass. — one step at a time

Luckily, when we’re opposing a bill, it takes many steps to become law. Right now the Mass. legislature is heating up for the end of the session July 31 and approving the state budget, so the pot is boiling over with legislators pushing laws through.

We must stop H4184 in its tracks. This dastardly bill, which puts more people in prison needlessly, for longer, passed the House. We must call and email and visit lawmakers to prevent it from being heard in the Senate. Here’s what to do, and who to call, thank to activists Patty Garin and Jean Trounstine.

The Massachusetts Senate has still not met concerning H.4184.  And we do not have a definitive day the bill will be heard. We are facing a crisis in Massachusetts juvenile sentencing and parole policies. We need your help!

Public pressure helps, we know that, and so far we have done well, but we need to keep it up!  THIS IS A CRUCIAL TIME FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE. We are once again asking those of you who have not called to please do so this week. Those who have called, please follow up with emails.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW.

THIS ACT CONCERNS JUVENILE SENTENCING AND PAROLE SETBACKS FOR ALL LIFERS. H.4184 would thwart the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling that sentencing children to life in prison violates the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. The bill would require that a juvenile convicted of murder (other than “felony-murder”) serve a minimum of 25 years before becoming eligible for consideration for parole; juveniles convicted of felony murder would serve a minimum of 20 years. This bill would result in de facto life sentences for young people.

Also, H.4184 bill would allow the Parole Board to impose a 10-year wait – double the current 5-year setback – before an individual who has been denied parole can go before the board again. THIS UNPRECEDENTED TEN YEAR SETBACK APPLIES TO ALL PERSONS SERVING LIFE SENTENCES – THOSE SENTENCED AS ADULTS AS WELL AS THOSE SENTENCED AS JUVENILES.

CONTACT YOUR OWN SENATOR https://bitly.com/yourMAlegislators at the State House or in their district offices AND MAKE AT LEAST THREE OTHER CALLS, with this message:

WE WANT 15/5 and WE OPPOSE H.4184:
1.   Youth should have an initial opportunity to seek parole no later than *15 YEARS* into their sentence.
2.   Everyone should be eligible for further parole hearings, if needed, no later than every *5 YEARS*. Remember eligibility does not guarantee parole only opportunity.

CALL
Senate Judiciary Chair, William Brownsberger (D., Belmont): 617-722-1280William.Brownsberger@masenate.gov

Senate Chair of Ways & Means, Stephen Brewer (D. Barre): 617-722-1540Stephen.Brewer@masenate.gov

Senate President Therese Murray (D. Plymouth): 617-722-1500Therese.Murray@masenate.gov

Majority Leader Stanley C. Rosenberg (D. Amherst): 617-722-1532Stan.Rosenberg@masenate.gov

We hope many you will CALL and EMAIL to urge Senate leadership to reject these extreme sentencing and parole provisions. There will be more info as we hear about it but for now PLEASE ACT THIS WEEK — of July 1, 2014.